Govt withdraws bill to limit PM’s term

New IPCC bill tabled excludes provisions under previous bill which granted the commission disciplinary powers to deal with police misconduct

pic by TMR FILE

THE government yesterday made an unexpected move to withdraw a crucial parliamentary bill aimed at limiting the premiership to two terms.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s (PM) Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan made the contentious move to formally withdraw the legislation in the Dewan Rakyat after tabling the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) in replacement of a similar bill tabled previously.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration introduced the bill on Dec 3 last year to prevent potential abuses of power.

The bill seeks to amend the Federal Constitution by setting a two-term limit for the PM position. A two-thirds majority is needed to amend the constitution.

Currently, the country sets no limit on how many times a person can become the PM.

The two-term limit was one of several election pledges made by PH as part of efforts to weed out corruption and restrict the powers of the PM.

Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, who held power for nearly three terms, was found guilty on all seven charges of corruption linked to a unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd last month and sentenced to 12 years in jail. The former PM faces 35 other charges for crimes he allegedly committed in office.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who became PM for the second time after PH’s unprecedented win in 2018, is the country’s longest-serving premier having served a cumulative 24 years. His first stint as PM lasted for 22 years from 1981 until 2003.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited legislation to set up an independent body on police misconduct was tabled for first reading by the Perikatan Nasional government, but with several critical omissions.

The new bill excluded provisions under the previous bill which granted the commission disciplinary powers to deal with police misconduct. This would have included powers to issue warnings, fines, forfeiture of emoluments, deferments and reduction of salary, reduction in rank and dismissal.

The new bill confines the power of the commission to making recommendations for disciplinary action to the Police Force Commission instead.

Also omitted was a provision to allow the set-up of a special disciplinary board to deal with complaints against the inspector-general of police.

Subang MP Wong Chen wrote on Twitter that the new bill has “no real teeth” to punish or penalise misconduct, but only powers to recommend disciplinary action.

“Presumably, then it is up to the police to decide what to do with the IPCC recommendation on matters of police misconduct.”

The bill, tabled by Deputy Home Affairs Minister I Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said, is aimed at enhancing the integrity of the police force, reducing misconduct among police officers and boosting public confidence in the police force.

Lawmakers yesterday voted through four bills, making it eight bills passed in three days. This included the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020, which sought to increase sentences for people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Three other bills sought to allow courts to utilise remote communication technology for its proceedings. Today is the last day of sitting for the Dewan Rakyat.